Medvedev Recreates the USSR

Paul Goble, writing for the Eurasia Daily Monitor:

Taking advantage of a “marked” decline in US activity in the former Soviet space, President Dmitry Medvedev is moving to “minimize” what some in Moscow see as the negative “consequences of the most serious geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century” by setting “a certain Union of Sovereign Super-loyal Republics.”

In this way, the editors of Nezavisimaya Gazeta argue, the USSR is reappearing albeit in a somewhat different form, and it future development, they suggest, will depend in the first instance “on the political will and professionalism of those carrying out” this policy direction.

Entitling their lead article in English “Back in the USSR,” the paper’s editors say that recent diplomatic moves by Medvedev, although most of them have attracted little attention except for the extension of the Russian base in Armenia, reflect “a significant link” in a chain of events to reverse what Vladimir Putin called “a geopolitical tragedy.”

At their meeting in Sochi, the paper notes, “Medvedev received assurances of loyalty form Tajikistan President Emomali Rakhmonov, once the Russian president announced that Tajik citizens could remain on the territory “from now on” for three months before they have to register with the government.

And at the meeting of the Organization of the Collective Security Treaty (known under its Russian acronym as ODKB), Medvedev secured not only the extension of Russian basing rights in Armenia but also improved “the tonality” of relations with Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka and won approval for the ODKB as the venue for discussions of Kyrgyzstan’s future security.

Moreover, Medvedev was able to win support for his plans to present a new and broader charter for ODKB at that organizations summit meeting in December.  (Andrey Lavrov and Aleksandr Golts have written about this subject as well).

At the Yerevan meeting, the editors of Nezavisimaya point out, all the ODKB signatories were represented – except Uzbekistan, which can be expected to go along with measures that will increase the effectiveness of that grouping. Among the Central Asian states, only Turkmenistan remains on the sidelines.

But it is not only Medvedev’s moves which lead the paper to its conclusions. The Moscow paper’s editors point to the failings of GUAM, the Georgian-Ukrainian-Azerbaijani-Moldovan grouping, over the same period as indicative of Moscow’s regaining of dominance in the post-Soviet space.

The visit of Moldova’s acting President Mihai Ghimpu to Georgia and his joint declarations with President Mikhail Saakashvili suggest that this anti-Russian grouping of states is living out its last days, given that neither Ukraine nor Azerbaijan will want to follow the Ghimpu-Saakashvili line and that Belarus’ Lukashenka won’t join that body either.  (Bogdan Tsyrdya has written in support of Nezavisimaya’s argument about the fate of GUAM while Yaroslav Butakov offers a critique of the notion that GUAM could ever become GUBAM and a dismissal of Russian worries on that point.)

But it is the decline of American attention to and support for the non-Russian countries around the Russian Federation that the Moscow paper’s editors view as the main reason for their conclusions about what Medvedev — and it should be added Putin –are currently seeking to do and with some success.

“Taking into account the marked reduction in the activity of Washington [in this region] and the corresponding weakening of its opposition to Moscow, there has appeared,” the editors say, “if you will the optimal chance if not for the liquidation of ‘the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century,’ then for the minimization of its consequences.”

And that, they somewhat provocatively suggest involves “the creation around [the Russian Federation] of a certain Union of Sovereign Super-loyal Republics.” And while this would represent “a kind of USSR,” it would hardly be like the one that existed before the events of 1991.

What the editors of “Nezavisimaya” do not say but what they may intend or at least what many of their readers may conclude is that the reappearance of that acronym even as an expression of intent is likely to provoke anti-Russian feelings in many of the former Soviet republics and thus become a major obstacle to loyalty Moscow so clearly want.

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7 responses to “Medvedev Recreates the USSR

  1. {Sigh}

    And where did you find “socialism” in all this? Or “soviet” – совет (council)? Whithout it, you know, it wouldn’t be US(S)R -just business.

    • carpenter17 wrote;

      And where did you find “socialism” in all this? Or “soviet” – совет (council)? Whithout it, you know, it wouldn’t be US(S)R -just business.

      comment;
      [laughter!]
      socialism equals russian domination – just business – goulags will be reopened, and russians will march in – as usual without any resistance in the name of Y-tvoyu – mats- Rossia – You have been treated like half-humans by your government for all your history just mere 700 years – we have to extract over 300 hundread years of TOTAL mongol domination – just look at your own faces – you see lovely rose cheeks and a mongol folds….

      Those pathetic attempts to recreate good old Soviet Union – is a good news for the West – you keep fighting several wars while neglecting any investment into infrastructure, etc. knowing that it will never work.

      You have to agree with me dear carp117 taht the Russians felt the happiest under the Golden Horde…

  2. Some excellent color photos from Old Russia and surrounding regions, pre-Bolsheviks: (between 1900-1912)-
    http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2010/08/russia_in_color_a_century_ago.html

  3. Russia’s ‘Federation’ Myth

    August 28, 2010
    By Mikhail Sokolov
    Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov announced recently that there should be only one “president” in Russia and therefore he was renouncing his own claim to that title. Other leaders of North Caucasus republics then announced their intention of following Kadyrov’s example. North Ossetia, though, was ahead of the curve — about two years ago, the forward-looking republic already turned its president into a “head of the republic.”

    One could view Kadyrov’s move as another act of outward loyalty by a vassal to his lord. It is possible that this manifestation of oriental courtesy was a result of the feudal anger of President Dmitry Medvedev, expressed to his envoy to the region Aleksandr Khloponin and the leadership of Daghestan concerning corruption in the North Caucasus and the lack of investment there. The situation is no better in Kabardino-Balkaria or Ingushetia, both of which rely on the federal budget for 90 percent of their revenues and are crippled by primitive economies and low-level partisan conflict.

    But Chechnya also doesn’t have much to brag about — except for a fragile peace and the ability to absorb regular donations of billions of rubles from the federal budget. And Moscow has no way of figuring out how that money is spent since the regime in Chechnya is absolutely opaque. All the auditors can do is marvel at the palaces of the local elites and the impressive cortege of jeeps that hustles Kadyrov from place to place. Any talk of kickbacks for reconstruction contracts is carried out only in whispers, since anyone caught speaking too loudly could easily vanish without a trace tomorrow.

    Chechnya today is de facto paid tribute. Its formal ruler pays a supposedly loyal vassal for superficial demonstrations of loyalty and to use his own forces to put down local insurgents. It is a payment for peace and a payment for a war against guerrillas that “Imam” Kadyrov’s forces can carry out far more effectively than the Russian Army.

    So now Kadyrov has publicly appeased Moscow, but this does nothing to change Chechnya’s de facto status in Russia. Russia will have one president. All the others will quietly change their titles. But there will also be only one “imam,” the head of Chechnya, who is de fact above the authority of the Russian Constitution, and who not only rules over Grozny but who also has the power of life and death over all Chechens around the world.

    This situation is a bit reminiscent of the pasha of Egypt in the early 19th century. Although Egypt was formally a province of the Ottoman Empire, its rulers governed autonomously and — in part because of the power of its army — influenced matters in the imperial center.

    The federal bureaucrats of the ruling United Russia party have hurried to support Kadyrov’s initiative. After all, it is a lot easier to mobilize regional lawmakers for another show of servility than it is to, for instance, fix all the mistakes in the federal Forestry Code. But there is something positive in Kadyrov’s proposal: it makes the real situation in Russia clearer. Now it will be easier to see the real essence of the present system of relations between the center and the regions.

    Pantomime Federalism

    The de facto confederal relations that have emerged between Chechnya’s ruling imam and Moscow are an exception. And Tatarstan and Bashkortostan, which have held on to some real federal relations with the center, are in their own orbit. A little closer to the center is Yakutia. But that is the extent of the asymmetrical construction of the Russian state.

    The heads of other republics who still have the title president clearly do not deserve it. Even the country’s republics — to say nothing of its ordinary oblasts — are rushing headlong to lose their real status as subjects of a federation and are being turned — as nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky once promised — into simple “guberny” or provinces of a unitary state that are all subordinated to the central vertical of a unitary state.

    It doesn’t matter that unitarism is a post-Soviet, ineffective, lazy, corrupt system that has no mechanism for two-way communication or mobilization even in the event of a critical situation. As the fiery summer of 2010 has shown, even fire alarms don’t reach the co-rulers in the Kremlin and the White House in a timely manner. And that is why Russia burned so badly this summer.

    Actually, it would be more honest to admit once and for all the process of defederalization and to change the name of the country itself. The official name “Russian Federation” is outdated and doesn’t reflect the reality that has been created by the regime of Vladimir Putin.

    There was a time when authoritarian rulers were more honest. When it took over a federal state in 1933, the “ruling party” of Germany promptly declared it a single “Reich,” or empire. And no one in the country and no one around the world had any illusions about its goals. That was the brutal fashion of those times.

    But now we live in an age of public relations and democratic window dressing. Having created a “management vertical” and having destroyed all vestiges of federalism and the first sprouts of local self-government, the Putin regime nonetheless must hang on to the old banner of the Russian “Federation.”

    These aren’t the 1930s and it isn’t fashionable anymore to be an autocrat. The architect of the government’s decorative projects, Vladislav Surkov, is charged with maintaining the facade of a “democratic,” “federal” Russia that periodically stages a show called “elections.”

    http://www.rferl.org/content/Russias_Federation_Myth/2140036.html

  4. Potemkin TV channel

    Everything was fine in Ukraine last week – nothing but good news.

    Halya Coynash

    Read more:

    http://www.kyivpost.com/news/popular/read/opinion/period/day/#ixzz0yocm2YuF

    Halya Coynash is a member of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group.

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